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An Odyssey in an Odyssey

By SRAI News posted 01-15-2021 04:02 PM


An Odyssey in an Odyssey

Looking at the journey of a mentee and mentor in the Odyssey Mentoring Program.

Signing up for the new SRAI Odyssey Program was a journey into the unknown as both Tim (mentor) and I (Katherine-mentee) didn’t know what to expect. When starting the program, we were both asked to fill out a goals sheet to outline how we would spend our meetings. As the mentee, I felt lost, staring at a goals sheet not knowing what my specific goals were or if they would align with what my mentor hoped to get out of the program. Little did I know that Tim was excited to help and give back much as he had experienced in the beginning of his career.

I was nervous for our first meeting since my goal sheet was filled with vague statements and lack of direction, but Tim quickly made me feel comfortable and suggested we focus on making one and five-year goals. We agreed to meet via zoom on a biweekly basis for 45 minutes to explore these goals, but we also started to build a friendship. Often, Tim would give me assignments to complete before our next meeting to further develop my goals and understanding of what I wanted and needed out of a career in research administration. Eventually, clear one and five-year goals came to fruition.

Not all our meetings focused on the future, and frequently, we both discussed current situations and how to address them. Tim provided advice on how to navigate difficult situations and conversations, while I was able to enlighten his managerial perspective on how an employee might feel about certain circumstances. Although our question-and-answer sessions were never planned, we both benefited and enjoyed the comradery.

I questioned how much one could grow over the course of a year in a mentorship program, but now that I am sitting here reflecting on the journey, the amount of growth is endless, for both the mentor and the mentee. As with most journeys in life, you get out of it what you put into it. We both went into this process with an open mind and willingness to participate. The Odyssey Program assisted by facilitating the pairings, providing structure, and giving an overall reason to meet, but our dedication was a key factor in us enjoying our biweekly meetings and regular emails.

With the 2020 program coming to a close, our experience became a delightful highlight in a year that was stressful and unpredictable. As a result of this program, I was prepared and found my next career step by applying for and accepting a new position as a senior research administrator in my college. Tim and I have plans with SRAI as well. Tim plans to sign up again as a mentor, and I applied to be on the Odyssey Program committee. We are grateful for SRAI creating the Odyssey Program and providing us an opportunity where we found joy, growth, and support in one another.  We remain committed to the program and each other. The end of our Odyssey Program journey is but the beginning of a new chapter, one of two great SRAI colleagues committed to the success of one another and the success of the next generation of research administrators.

Authored by

kbui.png Katherine Bui, Research Administrator Senior, University of Michigan tlinker.png Tim Linker, CFCM, CRA, CPRA, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Administration, North Carolina A&T State University